Saturday, May 26, 2007


The purse has been snatched

Congress, in response to the Emperor's veto of their first attempt to tie military funding in with a timetable for troop withdrawal, has now passed a military funding bill with no such limitation. The troops will get the money they need to stay safe and to continue their mission.

How could that be bad?

Well, making sure they have the money to defend themselves, to be fed and clothed and kept safe... isn't bad. We clearly have to do that.

But the spin is that voting against a military spending bill means voting against sending our military men and women the body armour they need to stay alive. To oppose this is to oppose our troops, and, &deity knows, we have to support our troops.

The thing is, that's too narrow a view, and the People of Sense who want to set up a plan to get those troops home seem to be ineffective at showing that, and at putting forth the alternative view that it's the president who is impeding the process of getting the troops the funding they need, by refusing to work on any plan except “send in more troops.”

By grumbling about it, but making the politically expedient choice of sending King George a bill that he will sign — which, since he's dictatorial about it, amounts to letting him tell you what to send him, and then doing as he demands — is supporting his view that he can do anything he wants. Further, it's telling him that whenever he needs more military money, he can come back and get it, because you, Congress, will not be more willing to vote against it later than you are now.

There's also the difference between giving him money for body armour and food... and giving him money — some five billion dollars — for a new aircraft carrier (we have eleven in service now). Be specific about where the money can go. Give the troops what they need until we bring them home. Hold back the funding for the rest of it.

Better still, do what George does with his controversial appointments. When he sends the Senate an appointee who's not acceptable to them, he just keeps sending the same appointee back until it's either pushed through or made as a recess appointment. Congress can take a similar approach with the budget: keep sending him military spending bills with the timetable condition. And every time, show the public who it is who's vetoing the body armour.

And how about this?: To give the despot some incentive... take something away each time. For the first pass, you get all the tanks and the F-16s and the aircraft carrier, and here's the timetable. Veto? OK, for the second pass you get the tanks and the F-16s, but the carrier's gone. And here's the timetable. Veto? Fine, third pass cuts out half the F-16s as well, and look: there's still a timetable. There'll always be a timetable. You'd better sign it while there's still money in there for one or two missile launchers.

Of course, since there aren't enough votes to override the veto, I'm not sure whether there're enough votes to keep sending the spending bill in the way I propose. But it'd be a nice approach. Alas, it's not to be: they've sent him what he wants.

And so he's effectively snatched Congress's purse. That's very worrisome.

Update, 27 May: The New York Times today has an editorial that relates to the president's refusal to accept a plan for withdrawal.


douglikespatti said...

It's disappointing that both sides have to be so childish about this. I thought it is an honor to serve your country in a political office. I guess that's just too naive.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Yes. I'd have liked to have seen at least one more bill sent that he had to veto. Unfortunately, until the Republicans in Congress stand up to him, Bush gets what he wants.

Come September I hope things are different - but I fear that they'll have to get much worse before they get better.